Why Is There War?

In this review of a book about The History of Violence, a careful scientific study of history shows that violence has steadily declined as humanity has become more civilized. While the sociologists struggle to figure out why, I offer my own humble theory. The struggle for survival is built into nature. What we call "war" is just part of the larger, inevitable competitive process. What exists in the world is what has survived this struggle. We are all heir of a long line of winner over a millions of years of continual struggle for survival. In the natural world, there are number of critical transition points where new sets of rules emerge unexpectedly. The laws of physics cannot predict the laws of chemistry, even though chemistry relies upon physics. Similarly, the rules of chemistry do not predict the rules governing living matter. Similarly, the rules of life cannot predict the rules governing the logic of the mind. At each of these transition points, new options open up that were not available before. Similarly, we see a new rules emerge unexpectedly in human organization. For most of human history, human organization seemed to compete in predictable ways. As cities organized into city-state, which eventually became states, the form of competition between all of these forms of organization was physical war. People died so that the organizations could survive. As the organizations grew, the violence within the city or state itself declined (controlled by the state) but the violence between states became larger and larger, culminating in WWII. However, since the industrial revolution, along side of the growing power of the state, another type of human organization has also been growing, slowly but surely. These new organizations competed in a different way. In their competition, organizations died but people survived. These organizations didn't compete in destructive or coercive power, as the states did. Instead, they compete in creative, productive power. These organizations were and are, of course, businesses. It is the power of these new organizations and this new competition that controls the future and it doesnt depend on destructive violence. The rules of competition i.e. war still govern the basic aspects of the economic competition of businesses (as the laws of physics still govern chemistry), but in transition to this new, higher form of competition, new unexpected rules emerge. One of those rules is that the creativity of the human mind is the most important natural resource on earth. Force cannot compel the human mind to create. Unified commend is less important than free communication. The new rules of economic competition are even transforming age-old forms of state competition. In the end, the West and the Soviet Union didn’t fight out their differences with destructive weapons. The economic success of the West simply made the Soviet model meaningless, even to its leaders. As we say in Sun Tzu's strategy, economic competition created a strategic position so powerful that it could not be attacked and, in the end, the only logical move was to join it.